Inside An Anorexic’s Mind

Hey friends! It is almost Friday. Woot.

So as most of you know I went through a period of time where I struggled with anorexia/anorexic tendencies. Although it was a hard experience and not fun, I learned a lot from it. I am grateful for hard experiences because it allows me to feel empathy (not just sympathy) for others going through similar experiences.

This might be a heavy topic for some, but I think it is important –not only to create awareness, but also to help those who have never experienced this be able to understand a little more in case they/you come into contact with a person who is suffering. So here is my take on it. And of course, hindsight IS 20-20….

with a sister -Germany 2005. Me on the right--too skinny.

These are ramblings about how I felt, how I viewed life, and what I remember during those years. Please don’t judge me–I was unkind to myself and others, but thankfully I have come a LONG way!

Anorexia Beginnings

It may have begun when I was younger (I was a dancer and was around dancers and gymnasts all my life) but I can pinpoint it well when it all really started. I decided I needed to lose some weight for a certain dance position that I would be doing for the Summer–and this decision happened right around the time when a certain young man broke my heart. Pretty sure I felt totally lost, without an identity, and so confused that the only thing I felt I could control was my food intake and exercise.

So I restricted. And counted. Incessantly. When I struggled with anorexia tendencies I counted every single calorie I ate and exercised out. I would have certain goals for each day (i.e. I will eat ____ calories and I will run ___ miles or for ___ calories). This went on for years. And I became very anxious about it all. I started keeping to myself more and more.

Whenever I saw a piece of food I did not *allow* myself to eat, I had to consciously stay away from it (totally backwards!). I would pretty much force myself to avoid the situation, walk away, or if I did eat a bite, I was only allowed 1 bite. One time my older brother caught me throwing away a lot of food, and he definitely was concerned. My sister also bugged me about my eating habits. This all led to major fights and confrontations with my mother–which were NOT fun in the least.

I may look happy, but it was rough

Every day as I passed other women, I would judge myself based on THEIR appearance (how much sense does that make?!) I would size them up, decide what size they were, how much they weighed, and even think about what foods they ate and how they exercised (now you think I was totally crazy. So sorry!), and from all of that I would determine how I measured up to that person. I would feel good or bad depending on what I saw.

YIKES.

Hello horrible comparing! It was awful. I even thought some of these things about people I knew. It made my life a living hell because I was constantly thinking negatively about myself (should’ve tried this instead!), which in turn made me view everyone else around me as a threat. I guess that is how I’d put it–during those years I felt threatened ALL the time. By food, by other women, by people wanting to help me, by family members, and by myself.

It was an internal fight that I hardly talked about, and brushed aside if someone confronted me about it. I HATED talking about it with anyone because it would’ve made me admit that I had an issue. That I was struggling. And in my mind, I was going to be the most perfect, smartest, & skinniest –so I had to work hard at it. In my mind I was never good enough. EVER.

*I think that is something worth noting, that people who struggle with this type of eating disorder tend to have a Type A personality, struggle with perfectionism, and often put themselves down in front of others. I never believed people’s comments about me : about my grades, appearance, or even my weight. When they said I looked skinny (or “great” depending on who you asked) I did not beleive them (even though I was a size 0!!). I wanted to achieve a certain size, but then when I did it never felt enough. EVER.

It is an ugly downward spiral, I tell you.

Anorexic Tendencies

This went on for about 3 years. And it was a very unhappy time for me. The only solace I had was from siblings and friends who never judged me or my issues. I appreciated anyone who was willing to just spend time with me instead of talking about me behind my back or confronting me all the time about my weight or eating habits.

Every joke that I felt had underlying meaning became cruel, unkind, and so not appreciated during this time. I guess you could say I lost all sense of humor and became super defensive about anything relating to eating, exercise, or general health habits.

I was totally in denial. Yep.

I dated a lot during this time. And was doted upon by many boys, but I never appreciated it. I never felt truly loved (or even really liked) by any of them even if that was the case –but I think this is because I did not love myself. For example, there was one date (it was the 3rd I believe) when the boy told me he could imagine marrying me. I was SO shocked, and totally disoriented. “Did he really love me,” I thought. And “how”?! Or “why would he want ME”?! Seriously. I remember it well. It is a vivid memory that still makes me cringe.

Of course that is all behind me now. I eat desserts. I eat more than salads at dinner and more than 1 apple, 1 carrot, and one piece of bread for lunch (!!!). I do not obsess over how many calories per exercise session I burn (I can track it now because of the BodyBugg, which ironically makes me more motivated to stay fit–and not restrict calories from my food!), and I am in love with my husband. And I believe him when he says he loves me more than anything.

Well, most of the time 😉

You see, for many months afterward when I started to eat normally again <—which turned into emotional eating and binge type episodes for awhile (more thoughts on that at a later date–this post is already freakin’ long), I still did not love my body or myself.

Loving Myself

When I finally started taking care of myself and focusing on REAL foods -fruits and veggies and not just on how many calories were in a certain food (ahem some ‘diet’ foods), and finding certain exercises that I LOVED to do (read: Zumba, BodyPUMP, weight training), life all of a sudden became full of joy and love.

ZUMBA I love you!! Aug. '11

I started to enjoy these things because of how they made me FEEL. I don’t think I have ever moaned and said, “oh man, I have to eat another salad, again!” Or “why do I have to go teach BodyPUMP today?” Because I eat/do these things when I WANT to and because I want to.

Huge difference for me. At first the weight loss was innocent, but it became a very negative thing. I controlled it, and then it controlled me.

And then my husband came along. SUCH happiness :)

life is fabulous with him in my life

My life and my fitness are now directed by what I LOVE and doing what I love. And enjoying each day with the people whom I love. And my smile and glow are back to stay!

he's always got my back ;)

Fitness is the NEW thing for me. Not skinny-ness<—-at least for me and my sanity.

Thankful Thursday

  1. Today I am especially grateful for my hard experiences with anorexia. I can empathize with so many clients and other friends or acquaintances now!
  2. I am super thankful for eggs. I have been obsessed lately!!
  3. I am grateful for my birthday in 4 days –I am a geek and totally love birthdays :)

What do YOU want to share about this hush-hush topic?! What are YOU thankful for today??

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Comments

  1. I am thankful for an amazingly brilliant friend who motivates and inspires me on a daily basis! (Oh, and she has a birthday on November 14th………………….)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this- there are so many of us that have battled with eating disorders and body image issues our whole lives- having support and knowing that you’re not alone helps!

  3. Thank you Annette for your honesty! It is so hard to be honest sometimes. You inspire so many people! I’m so glad you are in such a good spot and at peace about life, food and health!

  4. Girl, I am thankful for YOU!! I wish we could’ve gotten to know each other better in person at the gym “back in the day”, but I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog and got back in contact with you. I admired you from the first day I took your BodyPump class, barely even knowing you, to admiring you even more now when I feel like we’ve been able to share so much with one another through our blogs. Thank you so much for being real and sharing your story. I can relate so much to these hard times, and it’s encouraging to know that it’s OKAY to talk about it, heal from it, and learn from it. I, too, am thankful for my disordered past. It sure was, and still is at times, incredibly difficult. However, I’ve learned so much about myself and have been able to help so many other people, that I am in fact grateful for the struggle God put me through.

    • haha “back in the day” –seriously. WHAT were we thinking?!

      You wrote this comment beautifully–sometimes hard things are meant to be, so we can learn and grow and be there for others :) Well said, girl!

  5. thank you so much for such an honest post..I’ve had alot of similar issues in my past and it took alot for me to really get over them…sometimes I still have to have pep talks with myself because I never ever want to go back to that place..its a scary, unhappy place where I was starving and i’d much rather be fit and happy then be back in that place, ugh!

    I am too, thankful for the experiences that i’ve had. I’m thankful for understanding how it was to be morbidly obese and on the other side, understanding how it was to be thin and anorexic/bulimic. I’m thankful for the strength I had to lose my weight on my own, because its given be a more clear understanding of how CRAZY the human body can be.

    And today in particular, I am thankful for nuts/almonds. because they are toooo good :)

    • Thank you for sharing!! Totally agree-never going back to that ugly time!

      Oh almonds are SO good. Need them in my life. Daily 😉

  6. I can understand a lot of what you are saying and how you felt! I was similar, although not quite as extreme since it only lasted a little over a year for me, but I did the same thing with comparing myself with other women and wondering what they ate and how they exercised. I never felt good enough. Honestly, I still don’t feel good enough, i’m very type A and put a lot of pressure on myself, but I’ve come over most of my food hurdles and am working towards it constantly!

    • Why oh WHY do we compare ourselves so?! It is not a race against others, that is for sure :)

      Type A personalities unite! haha. Nice job working on it all, girl!

  7. I appreciate you sharing your hard past experiences, because I know every girl/woman goes through weight and self esteem issues to a certain degree. Well some take it further than others, obviously.

    I used to count the calorie intake and output pretty religiously too, and now I just try to eat HEALTHY. Exercise to be HEALTHY and to make myself feel good (not just appearance).

    Great post!

  8. Jane Doe says:

    I’m struggling through some stuff now. Would love to chat with you if you are open to that. BUT i cannot afford coaching programs or whatever, just wondered if you’re open to chat. If so, feel free to email me . Thanks.

  9. I happened to find your blog through a comment you made on HTP and I am so glad I found it! I’m currently in recovery from anorexia and many of the things you said could resonate with me so well. I’ve been in four treatment centers in the past 12 months but I feel like I’ve finally hit my recovery stride and staying recovered and healthy is my number one priority. I’m excited to explore your website a little more and I’m happy for you that you are so successful and seem so happy! Congratulations! By the way, your wedding pictures are absolutely stunning! Best wishes.

    • Ahhh girl!! So good to hear from you :) Recovery is HARD but I am impressed-sounds like you’re rocking it now!

      Thank you for stopping by–I am finally at peace, yes, and I love sharing how/tips etc with those who have or might be struggling. I find this also heals me as well–so stick around 😉

      Have a good day! p.s. I have a great husband–that’s why the wedding pics turned out so fab!

  10. Annette – thank you for your honest and open post. Things like this tend to be very personal. I’ve had my fight with it, albeit, not as long as yours. You are a beautiful person with a seemingly beautiful soul (since I don’t actually know you, I just have to assume and I’m sure your hubby would agree ;)). Stay strong and carry on!

    • It’s definitely been quite the journey, that’s for sure. Thank YOU for your sweet comments :)

      Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!!

  11. Vanessa says:

    Hello I stumbled onto your blog from the lovely Peace Love & Oats blog post today. Can I just say I am sitting her at my laptop crying because this is SO ME. I even relate to the whole “love yourself first” mentality. I know exactly what you are talking about and thank you for speaking about this weird area that is maybe not quite 100% anorexia but is seriously disordered eating. I too struggled with binge/emotional eating after my anorexic-ish phase and now am so focused on health and fitness! I am slowly starting to enjoy foods/fitness again and life is so so so much better. Thank you so much, and you have certainly gained another follower!

    • I am so glad that it resonated with you! It was a VERY tough thing to go through & endure, but looking back, I am learned a LOT from it–and what to share that with readers. Thank YOU for reading! :)

  12. I too have struggled with disordered eating and suffered from bulimia and obsessive exercising through my early 20’s. After 5 years, I found therapy and a nutritionist and said goodbye to my scale. I managed to enjoy my whole pregnancy with never seeing a scale however now 3 years after the birth of my son, I find myself fantasizing about the old days! Sad, right? I don’t even remember being happy during those “skinny” years but for the past few weeks, I have been thinking about the diet pills, thinking about the exercise, thinking about the scale and feeling worthless . It’s like a heroin addict. It must always be so tempting. I am happy I found your blog because it reminded me of all those awful feelings I forgot about when I was sick.

  13. Thank you I have a best friends going through this and it’ helps so much hearing other peoples experience to understand what’s she’s going through

Trackbacks

  1. […] I am SO grateful for all my friendships and many blessings. Oh and for my trials–all these things make me stronger and […]

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